21. On Zimbabwe, Summit noted with satisfaction the holding of free and peaceful harmonized elections on July 31, 2013. Summit commended the Government and people of Zimbabwe for the peaceful manner in which elections were conducted. Summit congratulated the ZANU (PF) party and President Robert G. Mugabe for winning the harmonised elections. Summit reiterated its call for the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on Zimbabwe.
22. Summit commended H.E President Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and his team for their sterling job in facilitating the successful implementation of the Global Political Agreement.
Our reading of this "endorsement by SADC of a flawed election" as SADC citizens from various CSOs who were in Malawi is that it sets a very bad precedent on the conduct of elections in the region, where using the Zimbabwe 2013 election template, there is a deliberate deviation from "Free, Fair and Credible" to "Free and Peaceful", passing as "credible" even in the absence of the critical Fairness variable. With national elections coming (between now and end of 2014) in Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi and Madagascar, among other SADC countries, this trend must not be allowed to hold in our region. A communique drafted by the SADC People's Summit in Lilongwe, backed by a statement issued by CSOs meeting in Malawi under the banner of the Human Rights Defenders Network (which included Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Zimbabwe NGO Forum), both of which were handed to and received on behalf of the SADC Executive Secretary by Tanki Mothae, Director of the Organ on Politics Defense and Security Cooperation outlined these concerns for the record. I attach here, the Zimbabwe and Malawi CSOs statement for your reference.
Meanwhile, please note that our accredited correspondent updated us that Zimbabwe, and by extension President "elect", Mr. Mugabe was voted as Vice Chair of SADC (deputizing Malawi's Joyce Banda who has taken over as Chair for the coming year). Following SADC ways of working, this development means Zimbabwe's Head of State and Government takes over as SADC chair next year in August for a year to 2015, at an ordinary Summit traditionally hosted by the incoming chair. The assumption of the Deputy Chairperson of SADC by Zimbabwe also means that Mugabe becomes part of the powerful Troika which comprises of the current SADC Chairperson, deputy chairperson and the immediate past Chairperson.
Given the fact that these developments happen at a point when Prime Minister and MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai had (as of Friday 16 August) withdrawn his presidential election petition from the Constitutional Court citing frustrations from the court and lack of confidence in the judicial system presiding over these processes, the electoral dispute in question may be heading for a political resolution, which may require SADC's continued intervention. Point 14 of PM Tsvangirai's widely circulated affidavit accompanying his withdrawal states "….this, sadly as far as I am concerned entails that the Zimbabwe situation is far from resolved and on my part as the leader of my political party I shall endeavor to use all democratic means to bring about the successful resolution of this matter.." It remains to be seen how Zimbabwe will execute these responsibities. Through our regular updates, tweets and facebook page, we will keep you posted on this front.
As CSOs from Zimbabwe and across the SADC region pushing for accountability of our leaders at any level they operate, we left Malawi with greater strength and conviction that we shall keep on engaging and pushing SADC at all levels to ensure that they stand true to their commitments as espoused in their own guidelines, principles and protocols they set as standards for member countries. It is encouraging to note that there is renewed effort to have the SADC Tribunal reinstated, with strong calls also for the establishment of a SADC Court of Justice to serve as a fall back institution where national processes fail citizens.Post published in: News